Right Main Landing Gear Fails Again

on an MD-11/MD-10 Type


FedEx Cargo Plane Collapses At Memphis International
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A viewer sent this photo to us of the plane smoldering on the ground
A viewer sent this photo to us of the plane smoldering on the ground
Pictures from the scene show the side of the plane burned through the fuselage
Pictures from the scene show the side of the plane burned through the fuselage
Also on News Channel 3
Amatuer Video of Passengers Escaping Plane
First Look At Crash
Also on The Web
What is the MD-10?
NTSB Launches Team To Investigate FedEx Accident In Memphis
DC-10 Facts
More DC-10 Facts

December 18, 2003

Memphis, TN - News Channel 3 has amazing amateur video of the pilots and passengers onboard escaping the burning plane. Click on the link to the left (below the pictures) to see the dramatic video.

A FedEx cargo plane caught fire on landing at Memphis International Airport this afternoon, but all seven people aboard escaped without serious injury.

FedEx spokesman Ed Coleman says there were two crew members and
five passengers on the MD-10. Coleman also says there was no evidence of an emergency prior to landing.

F-A-A spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen in Atlanta says the plane veered off a runway after landing.  Sources from the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington say the right main landing gear collapsed.  The right wing is resting on the ground, and there are holes burned through the right side of the plane's fuselage.

The Memphis Fire Department dispatched six fire fighting units to the accident scene.

The plane was landing after a flight from Oakland, California. Memphis is the home base of FedEx.

Viewers have reported they heard two explosions at the airport. The airport closed all traffic on runways 36R and 36C, but reopened 36C for FedEx's afternoon flights.

FedEx has 23 MD-10 jets in its fleet. The MD-10 is a plane based on the DC 10 design.  FedEx converted all their DC-10's to MD-10's in 1997, basically a passenger to freighter conversion. What is the MD-10?

Memphis Weather
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30032/1859 SLP191 T01111011=
KMEM 181853Z 31024G31KT 10SM SCT045 11/M01 A3009 RMK AO2 PK WND
30031/1849 SLP188 T01061011=
KMEM 181830Z 31023G28KT 10SM BKN045 10/M01 A3009 RMK AO2 PK
WND 32028/1829 (SPECI)
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31029/1723 SLP191 10111 20044 T01000000 50004=
KMEM 181653Z 29018G24KT 10SM FEW040 10/00 A3010 RMK AO2 PK WND
32028/1642 SLP193 T01000000=
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28026/1539 SLP195 T00890006

from this link

Burning FedEx jet veers off Memphis runway


MEMPHIS (AP) A FedEx jet caught fire while landing at the Memphis airport

yesterday and slid off a runway. One minor injury was reported.


The cause of the incident had not been determined, but a preliminary

investigation indicated that the plane's right landing gear collapsed before

the fire began.


''It would appear that would be the sequence,'' Ted Lopatkiewicz of the

National Transportation Safety Board said from Washington, D.C. The NTSB

dispatched a team of investigators to Memphis.


The MD-10, a wide-body cargo jet, was arriving on a flight from Oakland,

Calif., when it skidded off a runway on fire.


The flames were extinguished, but the plane was damaged. Several large holes

were burned in the right side of the fuselage, which was blackened by smoke.


Seven FedEx employees on board two crew members and five passengers

escaped from the plane without serious injury, company spokesman Ed Coleman



''There was one minor injury, due to the emergency evacuation of the

aircraft,'' Coleman said.


FedEx often transports hazardous materials, but company spokesman Jim

McCluskey said investigators still were determining what cargo was aboard

the aircraft and whether it was damaged.


''There's no evidence whatsoever of a bomb or any terror activity related to

this incident,'' McCluskey said.


Coleman said the crew didn't report any problems before the landing.


McCluskey said the crew and passengers got out of the plane through windows.

Several ropes that are part of emergency equipment for exiting aircraft

could be seen hanging from the plane. Television stations showed a videotape

of employees using the ropes to get down from the front of the fuselage. The

plane's right wing was on the ground.


The Memphis Fire Department dispatched six firefighting units to the scene.


FedEx, founded and headquartered in Memphis, owns the world's largest cargo

airline. The company's presence makes the Memphis airport the world's

busiest cargo airport.



Cargo Plane Catches Fire In Memphis


FedEx Spokesman: "I Don't Think I'd Classify It As A Crash"

The NTSB is on the scene at Memphis International Airport (TN) after a FedEx

MD-10-10 caught fire upon landing. One of the seven crew members on board

was slightly hurt.


"It was an incident upon landing," said Jim McCluskey, a spokesman for

FedEx. "I don't think I'd classify it as a crash."


The FAA already agrees. Spokesman Greg Martin says, "This was not a crash,"

he said. He said the plane caught fire upon landing, veered off the runway

and came to a rest in a field.


Pictures from the airport show the aircraft's right main gear apparently

collapsed. The aircraft was off the runway, charred and smoke-damaged. It's

not clear whether the fire started before or after the aircraft landed.


Two runways at Memphis were closed for a time, as firefighters doused the

flames and evacuated the crew.


The flight originated in Oakland (CA) and landed at Memphis around 12:35

(CST). There was no immediate cause listed for the fire, but officials were

quick to point out there was no indication that terrorism or sabotage were


Engine explodes as FedEx jet lands

Blazing arrival brings questions

By Sherri Drake

December 19, 2003

A blazing FedEx cargo plane rumbled down an airport runway Thursday, sending quivers through nearby buildings.

Two pilots and five passengers bolted to safety through the front windows of the fiery plane.



Hours later, the plane's charred carcass was still drawing onlookers and acrid smoke drifted through the air.

One of the plane's three engines apparently exploded sometime between when it landed and stopped, airport officials said Thursday.

On board the flight from Oakland, Calif., were two FedEx pilots and five other pilots, who were traveling as jump seat passengers. FedEx wouldn't identify those on board.

Witnesses from nearby businesses said they heard two loud booms and felt a quake in the walls as the plane landed.

"It sounded like a dadgum bomb went off," said Mike Williams, manager of Johnson Products on Rudder Road.

When Lisa Bell and Laurie Moultrie felt the sudden clap, they ran from their buildings toward the runway, they said.

"You could see fireballs," said Bell, who works at Memphis Sign Erectors.

Orange flames were all that was visible through the billowing clouds of smoke.

"You couldn't see nothing of the plane. It was just big, black smoke," said Ronnie Hopper, who looked on with co-workers from Jamison Steel Rule Die.

"We thought, 'Man, they're dead.' "

But very quickly, through the thick smoke, passengers appeared through the front windows and shimmied down cords on the plane's nose.

"It's kinda funny, but they were throwing their stuff out and then coming out. It was like luggage and a box and then the guys," Hopper said.

Tower officials weren't aware of any problems on board when the plane made a by-the-book landing, they said.

"There was no advance warning," said Larry Cox, president and CEO of the airport authority. "The crew did not contact the tower," he said. "Normally, if a crew has a cautionary landing, they'll call ahead so we can have the Fire Department stand by."

As soon as the plane landed, however, tower officials saw a small fire on the right side landing gear.

The plane veered down the runway and the landing gear came off, Cox said.

Aviation officials were trying to find the fire's cause Thursday. Faulty landing gear, problems in the cargo bay or in the plane's engine were among the possibilities.

The plane's right wing and engine ripped from the body of the plane and were hanging by a thread.

Nearly 100 Memphis firefighters arrived at the scene around 12:30 p.m. Thursday. They blanketed the soot-covered MD-10 with foam as it rested on its right side across the runway.

The MD-10, similar to a DC-10, has 16,000 cubic feet in available cargo space and as much capacity as four 40-foot railroad freight cars.

It took firefighters nearly an hour to extinguish the fire, officials said.

Three of the seven passengers were taken to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis for evaluation, said FedEx spokesman Pam Roberson.

The four others were taken to Methodist Healthcare-South.

At The Med, paramedics unloaded three pilots around 2 p.m.

A gray FedEx blanket was wrapped around one pilot while another pilot's face and body were covered with a yellow firefighter's jacket.

"No one was seriously injured and under their protest they were brought to the hospital as a precaution," Roberson said.

Many travelers in the terminals of the Memphis International Airport scurried about as usual, unaware of the disaster so close by.

"I didn't see anything, no rescue vehicles or anything. Seemed as normal as could be," said Jim Porter, who'd just arrived from Melbourne, Fla.

The landing caused no cancellations, diversions or disruption in air traffic, said the airport authority's Cox.

The troubled landing did close one of the airport's four runways. And officials closed a second runway so firefighters could reach the burning plane, he said.

The plane could stay on the runway for up to 24 hours, if investigators need that much time, Cox said. It was still there Thursday night.

The damage from the landing was the most substantial he's seen in his 30 years at the airport, Cox said.

Airport officials worked to reopen the center runway late Thursday.

The FBI is making a routine check to see if foul play was involved, Cox said.

If foul play is ruled out, the National Transportation Safety Board will be responsible for determining causes.

FedEx officials Thursday started notifying customers whose packages were on the plane. Most of the cargo was in containers, so officials are assuming the packages are in decent shape.


What is the MD-10?
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LONG BEACH, Calif., Sept. 16, 1996 -- McDonnell Douglas and Federal Express announced an agreement today to convert the express transport company's DC-10 trijets to an advanced technology freighter configuration designated the MD-10. The project, which will convert a minimum of 60 DC-10s to MD-10s, will occur in two phases. The first phase will be basic passenger-to-freighter reconfiguration of 36 DC-10s being acquired by Federal Express from United Airlines and will begin in early 1997. The airline already operates 35 DC-10s. The second phase will include the installation of the new McDonnell Douglas Advanced Common Flightdeck (ACF) in the modified aircraft and other Federal Express DC-10s, converting the three-crew DC-10 cockpit into a two-crew MD-10 glass cockpit. This ACF conversion will be certified and available beginning mid-1999 when the first MD-10 joins the Federal Express fleet. The ex-passenger DC-10s will remain in service with Federal Express during the period between the freighter and the ACF modifications. "We're very pleased to have completed this agreement with Federal Express, the largest operator of McDonnell Douglas DC-10 freighters. This will be the largest aircraft modification program McDonnell Douglas has launched since the 1970s," said Mike Sears, president of the Douglas Aircraft division of McDonnell Douglas. "Development of the MD-10 conversion opens the way for the same advanced technology upgrading of other airlines' DC-10s." DC-10 Freighter Reconfiguration The DC-10 passenger-to-freighter reconfiguration involves removing passenger accommodations and installing a main deck cargo door, measuring 140 inches wide by 102 inches high, on the left side of the forward fuselage. McDonnell Douglas has designed specialized tooling for fabricating and installing the door to minimize the time the aircraft is out of service and to improve flexibility in production line rates. Structural changes will be made to increase the aircraft's maximum takeoff gross weight (MTOGW). The Series 10 DC-10 MTOGW will increase to 446,000 pounds, with a payload of 143,500 pounds for a nonstop range of approximately 2,000 nautical miles. The Series 30 MD-10, with an MTOGW of 580,000 pounds, can carry a 163,000-pound payload 3,700 nautical miles. A main deck rigid barrier, rather than the standard cargo net, is planned and will allow seating and basic amenities for five passengers in the forward cabin area in the baseline freighter. A powered cargo loading system is planned for the lower cargo deck. ACF Conversion: MD-10 McDonnell Douglas' recently designed ACF is based on Honeywell's Versatile Integrated Avionics design, the VIA 2000. Upon installation of this advanced technology, the upgraded freighters will be redesignated MD-10s. Honeywell will provide the majority of the new system hardware and software for the ACF. The baseline system, which is derived from the MD-11 flight deck, features six-across, eight-inch flat panel, liquid crystal displays and improved system control functions. Behind the flight deck panels, triple VIA computers will integrate the LCD electronics and related software. This design will have significant flight deck commonality with the current Federal Express MD-11 fleet, thereby reducing flight crew training time for MD-11 pilots. An overall savings of approximately 1,000 pounds in removed equipment is predicted as a result of the ACF modification. The useful economic life of the DC-10 will be extended an expected 20 years following incorporation of all planned changes. Other major improvements, such as advanced weather radar with predictive windshear detection, a category IIIb autoflight system, landing gear reliability improvements and aerodynamic drag reductions, will be installed during the ACF conversion to upgrade the overall capability of the MD-10. In addition, Satellite Communications, Global Positioning System navigation capabilities, Future Air Navigation System compatibility and On-board Maintenance Terminal will further reduce crew workload and enhance the operational reliability of the MD-10. A similar set of advanced cockpit displays and systems is being designed into the new McDonnell Douglas MD-95 100-passenger twin jet and as an option for MD-90 twin jets. Moreover, it will soon be available for all new McDonnell Douglas commercial aircraft. This ACF technology will offer airline customers a high degree of cockpit and systems commonality across the entire family of aircraft, which will translate into major savings in crew training and operating costs for airlines with more than one McDonnell type aircraft. An initial ACF installation in a flight test DC-10 will begin in early 1998, with first flight of the ACF-configured aircraft expected in the third quarter of 1998. Two additional aircraft will be modified and used in a flight test program of approximately 800 flying hours. Federal Aviation Administration certification is planned during 1999.


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